When I was very little, I became convinced that my Dad was a superhero.
It was Halloween and my little sister and I had made jack-o-lanterns, only to have them destroyed by two teenage boys. My father chased down the two hooligans (barefoot down a gravel road, he always emphasized) and caught them. He gave them a stare that only a Daddy with two hysterical, crying daughters could give and then issued the punks a twenty minute window to “fix” the situation. My Dad warned the boys that he knew who they were (he didn’t) and where they lived (he had no clue) and if the problem wasn’t rectified within the timeframe, my Dad said he would be making a visit at their homes. (Which was a much larger threat in 1977 than in present day, sadly.)
Within a few minutes the boys returned with two “new” jack-o-lanterns (stolen from some other household where the father couldn’t chase down petty thieves barefoot on a gravel road, no doubt.) My sister and I were completely appeased and happy once more. And we were convinced from that moment on that Dad was the strongest man in the world.
Throughout the years, nothing ever changed that opinion of my father. He made me feel completely safe and protected. Even as an adult, when visiting his house, I felt sheltered and guarded in a way that I couldn’t feel anywhere else. It is the feeling that comes from having a father who never let me down.
Right now my sweet Daddy is lying on a bed issued from hospice. He has experienced a ‘rapid decline,’ and it’s been more than sixty hours since he ate more than a couple bites of a sandwich or drank more than a tablespoon of water. He cannot talk anymore and the medication keeps him from knowing what is going on. He is a six foot man, weighing at best, a hundred and thirty pounds. He gasps for air, while his poor wasted body still fights a loosing battle with lung cancer.
And he is still the strongest man I know.
(I want to thank all of you for your kind words and prayers. It helps. It really does.)